Thinking about opening a beef cattle business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Agricultural Business Realities
Beef cattle farming is an iconic American business concept. The idea of starting a farm or ranch-based beef cattle business has strong appeal for entrepreneurs who can't stand the thought of sitting behind a desk all day.
But if you aren't familiar with agriculture or animal husbandry, you could be in for a rude awakening. A beef cattle business isn't a business as much as it is a lifestyle. Whether you elect to launch a small, family operation or a large cattle enterprise, your life will inevitably revolve around the demands of your herd.
Land is a major hurdle for many startup entrepreneurs. Cattle need room to range and the operation needs adequate acreage to meet forage demands. An average 1,100 pound beefer consumes 25-30 lbs. of forage per day. Multiplied by the size of your herd, daily food consumption can quickly become problematic, especially during growing seasons where drought and other factors conspire against you.
If you lack acreage, you can buy feed from outside sources. But an over-reliance on external feed sources leaves your business vulnerable to market fluctuations. Combined with the variable pricing of the beef market, you could find yourself in a scenario where you are being squeezed on both ends.
Cow-Calf & Animal Husbandry
Most beef cattle businesses are cow-calf operations. Calves are raised, bred and ultimately sold for beef. Effective husbandry requires a certain level of expertise; if your operation has less than fifteen head, it's probably more cost effective to outsource your breeding requirements rather than maintaining a bull on premises.
Best Practices for Writing a Beef Cattle Company Business Plan
Many new beef cattle business owners feel unprepared for the challenge of writing a business plan.
Fortunately, you don't have to tackle your beef cattle company's business plan by yourself. These days, there are tons of great resources and solutions available to support the business plan writing process.
Our Business Plan Help section discusses some of the business plan resources other entrepreneurs have found useful.
Don't Overlook the Competition
Before you open a beef cattle business within your community, it's a smart move to find out what the competition looks like. Try our link below to get a list of local competitors in your city. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of beef cattle businesses that are close by.
If there's too much competition, it may be wise to consider starting the business in a less competitive marketplace.
Finding a Non-Competitive Business Mentor
As part of your due diligence on opening a beef cattle business, the next step is to talk to somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. Why would they want to educate a future competitor?
Fortunately, somebody who runs a beef cattle business on the other side of the country may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
Where does one find an owner of a beef cattle business in a different locale who can assist you?
We can help. Follow the link below, try a few city/state combos or zipcodes, and then start calling!
Benefits & Drawbacks of a Beef Cattle Business Acquisition
An acquisition can be a great way to enter beef cattle business ownership. But it's important to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of buying a business before you decide on either an acquisition or startup approach.
BENEFITS: Acquired beef cattle businesses should be profitable right out of the gate; they should also be capable of demonstrating a loyal customer base, brand identity and operational efficiencies.
DRAWBACKS: On the downside, beef cattle business acquisitions can be difficult to adapt to your unique business philosophy so it's important to make sure the business is capable of achieving your ownership goals before you initiate the buying process.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing beef cattle business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to beef cattle businesses, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.